Road safety improvements in Middletown require diversion of land

MIDDLETOWN – Monmouth County officials are proposing a diversion of parkland from the Monmouth County Park System’s Hartshorne Woods Park in Middletown to allow for improvements to the intersection at county Route 8A (Locust Avenue and Valley Drive), county Route 8B (Navesink Avenue), Monmouth Avenue and Oakdale Run – specifically, the replacement of the stop-controlled five-legged intersection with a modern roundabout.

According to a press release from the county, the area proposed to be diverted is a portion of Block 786, Lot 1 (0.35 acres), which is one of the many parcels that make up the 797-acre Hartshorne Woods Park and is at the southeast corner of the existing intersection.

To compensate for the diversion, county officials have agreed to acquire Block 786, Lot 2 (1.26 acres), which is immediately adjacent to the diverted area, is contiguous with the park, and will result in a net increase of 0.91 acres to Hartshorne Woods Park.

“The county has designed road improvements that address pedestrian and traffic safety concerns while incorporating aesthetic details that will complement and integrate into the surrounding area,” Monmouth County Board of County Commissioners Director Thomas A. Arnone was quoted as saying in the press release.

“The improved traffic flow will be highly beneficial to all who use these well-traveled routes. In addition to providing for local travel, these roads provide an active and vital transportation link in the populated residential Bayshore communities to the Belford Ferry Terminal in Middletown, which shuttles commuters to New York City each day, as well as the Seastreak Ferry Terminal in Highlands,” Arnone said.

Commissioner Ross F. Licitra, who is the county governing body’s liaison to the park system, said, “With the approval of the diversion, Hartshorne Wood Parks will gain almost an acre of land, adding to this significant area of preserved Highlands of the Navesink, which offers miles of hiking and biking trails and spectacular views of Sandy Hook Bay, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers.”

There will be a virtual public hearing regarding the proposed diversion on May 26 at 7 p.m. Members of the public may participate in the meeting by phone, or by computer device such as a smartphone, computer or tablet, according to the press release.

For audio only participation, dial 408-418-9388 and enter the meeting ID: 129 097 9120.

For computers and smart devices, navigate a web browser to https://countyofmonmouth.webex.com/ and then join with meeting ID: 129 097 9120. When prompted for the meeting password, type ” ‘welcome’ ” to join.

Public questions and comments will be taken during the meeting. Audio only callers may press *3 to virtually raise a hand. Smart device users may use the WebEx raise hand icon.

Alternatively, written comments may be submitted to the county during a public comment period that will close on June 10, according to the press release.

All written comments regarding the diversion request, or requests to review the materials at the Monmouth County Division of Engineering, may be directed to: Jessica Kubida, Environmental Specialist, Monmouth County Division of Engineering, Hall of Records Annex, 3rd Floor, One East Main Street, Freehold, NJ 07728 or call 732-431-7760, ext. 6775.

Individuals should send a copy of any written comments submitted on this request to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Green Acres Program, Bureau of Legal Services and Stewardship, P.O. Box 420, Trenton, NJ 08625-0420, Attn: Jessica Patterson, or to Jessica.Patterson@dep.nj.gov